Sunday 19 February 2017

Steppe Patrol: Warrior Heroes; New Dawn Battle Report

A Brethren Knight, Frater Gustav, is leading a small patrol out onto the steppes. There have been reports of Greenskins, and a caravan is overdue.

This is a playtest of the current mechanics for Warrior Heroes: New Dawn, Vol. 1. The first volume will contain all players need to embark on skirmishes in Talomir, its essentially the "Adventures" bit of the original Warrior Heroes: Armies and Adventures. More on plans for publication at the end. For now on with the show.

The table is set. There are a couple of sparse copses, the rest is deceptively open, rolling terrain. Visibility is limited to 2 feet, due to the uneven nature of the ground, and even apparently empty terrain might contain crafty Goblins.

There are three Possible Enemy Forces (PEF's) on table at the start. As luck wound have it, one is behind each copse while the third is on the far end of the table from Frater Gustav's patrol.

I will be taking on the role of Frater Gustav and co., while the game system plays any enemy we encounter.

Frater Gustav (Rep 5, AC6) is leading two light horsemen (Rep 4, AC 4), two infantry (Rep 4, AC 4), and two crossbowmen (Rep 4, AC2).

I decided to send out my light horse to scout out any hidden enemies a good distance from the majority of my force. The infantry fan out on either side of Frater Gustav, keeping their eyes peeled for any tell tale signs of Goblin or wolf.

The PEF on the far table edge, and the one behind the copse on the left, turn out to be false alarms, while the one behind the copse on my right turns out to be a chariot accompanied by seven wild wolf riders 

Above is the situation at the end of the turn. Whoever gets to act first next turn will likely have an advantage.

It wasn't me.

The Goblins charge the scout that discovered them.  Losing his nerve he falls back before them without giving thought to shooting at them as he leads  them on.

It is a merry chase but he keeps out of their reach.

Unfortunately the Goblins have now split my force in three, peppering my boys with arrows as they do so. Fortunately they are not very good shots nor do they wield terribly good bows. But quantity does indeed have a quality of its own.

My other light horseman iss forced to retire out of harm's way.

But arrows fly both ways and the chariot and one wolf rider are also sent packing temporarily.

Soon two wolf riders are down bolts having found their marks.

Frater Gustav leads his footmen in a charge...

More like an advance as the wolf riders  easily keep ahead of them...although panic sets in and they flee the field.

Have a bit of a panic meself when a fourth PEF appears on the table edge. Turns out to be nothing fortunately.

Although Encounters do not have time limits, it is always a good idea for players to get on with it. Eventually more PEF's will appear and chances are some of them will be proper enemy forces.

Leaving only the chariot and a single wolf rider to be dealt with.

Frater Gustav and his footmen fall back on the crossbowmen. No sense in getting strung out. There could still be Greenskins lurking about.

The chariot lumbers around and has another go at my light horsemen. One retires, rather too precipitately I fear, out of danger, but the other one countercharges, shooting as he rides.

He scores a hit, but the chariot takes three before being put out of action.

And when they come to blows, the chariot easily rides the light horseman down.

The remaining wolf rider, continues to harass us with arrows, being careful to keep his distance.

My crossbowmen return the Goblin's attention.

Although one fellow drops back and considers his options. 

The chariot rumbles round, the Greenskin noble taking aim at my main body.

More quarrels fly.

And the chariot is forced back.

Once more the chariot approaches, and worse yet I am having the Devil of a time trying to call my light horseman and crossbowmen back to the fray.

There is nothing for it so I have Frater Gustav lead the boys forward once more., only to lose one to an arrow on the way in.

The fight is touch and go.

My lads score a Stun result. It's better than nothing, but the Greenskins have every chance of making a full recovery once they get their wits about them.

Only they never really quite recover and the Stun becomes a second hit!

Their minds must truly be addled, for rather than rallying back after the combat they settle in trading blow for blow.

Once again they are Stunned. It's too much to hope for this second Stun to also become a hit.

The Greenskins are set to recover their wits. Will they manage to  do so before the Brethren strike again?

It's all down to the Activation dice for the next turn. 

The Brethren strike first scoring a third Stun.

Od's Fish but these Greenskins are tough little fellows. Most foes would have long since given up the ghost.

At last its too much and the charioteers fall wounded, only to be quickly despatched.

The lone surviving Goblin is decidedly, and quite understandably, shaken by these proceedings and withdraws to consider a career change. Wonder if basket weaving pays more than raiding?

Well and truly dispersed now, with two of my men apparently unwilling to close anylonge with the enemy, I should regroup before proceeding.

But there is only one Goblin left after all. What could possibly go wrong?

The Miasma of Magic shifts and weakens. Frater Gustav should have an easier time of channelling its energies into fantastic feats of arms.

With that prospect in mind, I decide to press the issue.

Why give the Greenskins more time to gather if I can end this now with one swift stroke?

My crossbowmen move to join the good Frater, taking time out only to finish off some wounded Goblins.

Frater Gustav and his footmen press on, only to see another group of golbins seemingly rise out of the very ground. 

These Goblins are masters of this terrain. What appears to be open country can conceal a small army.

Although randomly generated, this bunch also consists of a chariot born noble leading seven wolf riders.

They activate first and charge, loosing arrows as they ride.

In the melee, my footman is wounded and out of the fight. 

The Goblins swarm around Frater Gustav, unable to pierce his guard.

Finally Frater Gustav breaks free of the biting, slashing, and hacking mass.

Quickly muttering, a prayer, Frater Gustav center's himself and invokes his To The Saddle Born discipline.

He's tried and failed to succeed several times already today.

This time is going to be different.

Scoring only a middling success, Frater Gustav puts stirrups to mount, launching a furious charge.

This turn he will be able to break through his enemies though they be knee to knee and fight a round of melee with each as he passses.

First he strikes a Goblin to his right and the chariot to his left. The wolf rider is merely pushed aside but the Noble and his dope ride are Stunned.

Circling around, the Frater strikes two more wolf riders, as they scramble out of his way.

One is merely pushed aside, the other is Stunned.

Frater Gustav is not inflicting much damage,,,,

 But the enemy group is dispersing before his mad fury.

Frater Gustave engages a final pair of wolf riders.

One falls from the back of his mount, no longer a threat. The other manages to get out of the way.

Goblins reactions and attempts at recovery see the loss of the chariot and two wolf riders lighting out for parts unknown.

Goblins are nothing if not plucky, and a wolf yaps at the Frater's steed as its rider draws is cruel blade.

The Goblin's skill is not so great as his hatred.
Wolf and rider are driven off, riding to join up with a group of stragglers.

Two of the Goblins charge the crossbowmen.

Only to falter and mill about exchanging shots.

Frater Gustav charges the Goblins in his turn, and sends them packing,

Finally roused from his lethargy, the remaining light horsemen joins in the pursuit, shooting as he rides.

While behind Frater Gustav, enemies lurk and...

The last three Greenskins plot murder and mischief.


The Frater meets them..

Head on!

One falls wounded.

One falls dead,

With a Parthian shot,

The sole surviving Goblin,

Disappears into the distance.

Final tally is seven dead Goblins for the loss of one footman killed, and one footman badly wounded, and one lighthorseman wounded.

The Goblins failed to carry off their wounded accounting for the great disparity in losses.

A successful patrol with some nail biting moments.

 It is worth noting that in Two Hour Wargames in general, and Warrior Heroes: New Dawn in particular, that your hero is never guaranteed to survive any blow or missile, so combat should never be entered into lightly. 

In this game Frater Gustav nearly came to grief at least twice, having to rely on Hero Dice (fickle thing at the best of times) to avoid going Out of the Fight. 

Neither did he, or his compatriots for that matter, often win combats by convincing margins.  

The general weediness of Goblins served me well in that they were slow to recover from setbacks. And of course both chariots were ultimately lost to repeated Stings (first chariot), and a single Stun (the second). Still even here it as poor luck as the chariots are Rep 4 and stand a good chance of recovery.

There were a total of 5 PEF's revealed by the end of the game, only one having actually been an enemy force. Six table sectors were explored, producing an additional group of Goblins.

That is how it should be in solo and co-op games.

Recent versions of Warrior Heroes spin offs have tended to put limits on the amount of PEF's possible, as well as making those PEF's that do appear march straight for the player forces.

I wanted to get back to basics with Warrior Heroes: New Dawn, and reversing that trend is most definitely a goal. The players have to work to investigate those PEF's not just sit and wait for them to reveal themselves (unless the PEF's are the Encounter attackers of course), and as mentioned before, the clock is ticking. Dawdling players can easily get lured into traps, or swamped by massing enemy reinforcements. 

Should you regroup and cautiously advance or wildly advance and devil take the hindmost?

In the game just played the first approach was successful but time consuming. Pressing to end the game quickly left me spread out and vulnerable when the second group of Goblins appeared. It was only down to luck, and the lowered Miasma of Magic that disaster was averted.

As mentioned at the beginning, the plan is now for Warrior Heroes: New Dawn to be released as three volumes, and here is the rationale behind that,

The original Warrior Heroes: Armies and Adventures was a big book, one of the biggest Two Hour Wargames has ever released. With that came two main problems.  First, behind the scenes, a good deal of information had to be left out to prevent the pagecount growing and the price point rising, Second, even the reduced content version had a high page count and hence price point. This left some folks grumbling that they didn't want a game that covered everything from dungeon crawls to massed battles with hundreds of  figures per side.

With that experience in mind I am releasing the new game in three volumes.
Volume One will be dedicated to skirmish gaming, small forces of up to a dozen or so per size, dungeon crawls, and the general sorts of things that a band of adventurers might get up to.

Volume Two will cover mass fantasy battle. To an extent it will be a stand alone game, in that you needn't won Volume One in order to use it, but the rules will be there for your characters to advance in social standing from low level sword fodder up to commanding officers.

The first two volumes will also have a selection of army lists, encounters, and a mini campaign, so you can get playing right away. 

The Third Volume will be a gazetteer of  sorts, including army lists for all of Talomir, as well as information on the various cults, factions, and kooks lurking in the wilder, and in the shadows of the more civilized parts of the world.

The books should be released in order, which also means less waiting for the finished product. I am hoping that Ed can put together some package deals for those interested in more than one volume, but I am MOST CERTAINLY NOT involved in setting prices, or even know what is really involved in doing so, so such may not be possible.

And with that, dear reader, if you have made it this far, I than you!

As always, thanks for stopping by!